Thursday, September 12, 2013

This Is Your Brain on Sports. OK, My Brain

At approximately 2 p.m. today, I utterly, totally blanked on my two niece's married names.

At approximately 3:30 p.m., I found myself able to recall not merely the identity of the sponsors of TV broadcasts of Philadelphia Phillies games in the 1950s, but all of their jingles, too.

Was I embarrassed? Not so much that I didn't sing the jingles while I drove back from the drugstore. Remembered the musical intro to the pregame "Benny Bengough Show" too.

Monday, September 09, 2013

They Can't All Be Gems

A win is a win is a win, but sometimes it doesn't feel like one at all. Judging from the tenor and manner of delivery of his post-game remarks yesterday, Tom Brady was having trouble drawing any savor from the Patriots' 23-21 win over the Bills.

Or maybe Tom was just subdued because he was tired. He threw 52 passes against Buffalo, the one element of the game that really ought to take at least some satisfaction away from the victory.

New England was life and death to defeat a team in total reconstruction mode, one with a quarterback making his first NFL start, one that made enough mistakes to lose a month's worth of games and which displayed in full measure the most common weakness of rebuilding teams playing over their heads -- the inability to finish by capitalizing on favorable situations. This is not a pleasant fact, but neither is it one that should generate excess agita within the Patriots community, not even inside Brady's perfectionist soul.
The Pats themselves are in the midst of major renovations, with more first year and rookie players than any other team and minus some vital offensive players for a variety of reasons. It is only logical that New England would sputter on occasion as did the Bills. In a sport built on endless repetition, a crisp dominating Patriot 38-3 performance would've been more surprising than what actually took place.

Winning and losing are learned behaviors. The Pats won because changes and all they have infinitely more learning about winning crammed into their collective being than the Bills do. Also more talent. As has been said here more than once, all NFL teams have at least one and more usually 2-3 games in a season where they can't get out of their own way. Really good teams, however, sometimes win them anyway.

Brady knows everything in the above two paragraphs better than I or anyone else. So why was he so reserved yesterday? Well, for one thing, nothing makes Brady unhappier than his own mistakes, and he had an unforced error of the first magnitude, fumbling a snap at the Bills' goal line. Maybe that's all it was.

Or maybe, Brady was thinking that 52 passes is one hell of a lot of work to put up 23 points against what is not regarded as one of pro football's primo defenses. Maybe Brady was foreseeing a year in which game after game, he and he alone will pretty much determine if New England wins or loses.

Historically great quarterbacks welcome such a challenge. But even the greats don't consider it a desirable way to make a living if the challenge sits there every day they go to work.